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The Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Spirits companies are wise to the fact that whisky sales are on the slide, but two efforts to modernise the category are met with disdain by JANE MacQUITTY: 'Trying to pass off whisky as an entirely different spirit, hoping to woo a new young audience, is a daft idea and bound to end in tears.'

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The Sunday Telegraph

Published:  23 July, 2008

GILES KIME's favourite sparkling ross include Tesco (14.99), Billecart-Salmon (34.95; Berry Bros & Rudd) and Krug (160; Harrods).

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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

JAMIE GOODE's selection includes 2002 Herrick Syrah (5.19; Budgen, Waitrose), 2004 Devil's Rock Pinot Grigio (4.79; Waitrose, Somerfield) and 2004 Castello Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio (7.99; Majestic).

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

JANCIS ROBINSON MW considers ever-increasing alcohol levels. 'I remember red Bordeaux with labels stating 10.5 and 11% alcohol unashamedly, but nowadays percentages of less than 13 are becoming a rarity, even in the temperate climate of Bordeaux,' she says. Indeed, in a desperate effort to get his name in the pages of Private Eye, Santa Barbara winemaker Bob Lindquist recently proclaimed that '15 is the new 14'. Robinson adds that a study of average alcohol levels in Napa Valley Cabernets shows that in the early 1970s the wines averaged about 13%, while in 2001 the average was 15.1%. That's the average. And with an EU ruling preventing 15+% wines being imported, unless a bilateral wine agreement has been enacted, as in the case of Chile and South Africa, those wines will never reach UK shores.

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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

JOANNA SIMON says we are surprisingly wary of sweet wines: 'Blame it on residual snobbery and fear of appearing naff'. She recommends 2001 Chteau Dauphin Rondillon Cuve d'Or (7.95/375ml; Vine Trail), 2003 Vouvray Moelleux Lemaire (9.95; Stone, Vine & Sun) and 2004 Joostenburg Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest (10.50/375ml; Berry Bros & Rudd).

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The Guardian

Published:  23 July, 2008

Margaret River is the region to look for if you're inclined to spend a little more than average on a bottle of wine, says VICTORIA MOORE. She recommends 2004 Evans & Tate Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (5.99; Asda), 2001 Xanadu Semillon (10.49; Oddbins) and 2002 Fermoy Estate Merlot (13.50; Great Western Wine).

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The Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Carmenre grape is much-maligned, according to JANE MacQUITTY, and unfairly so, in her opinion: 'The Chileans may not have made a world-class Carmenre to date, but I don't think they've made a truly top-drawer Cabernet or Syrah either. In any case, most of Carmenre's problems can be eradicated with good vineyard management, including grafting the grape on to hardy, bug-resistant American rootstock. Hillside plantings, partial irrigation and hard pruning all help to eradicate those weedy flavours and get the best from this grape.'

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The Daily Telegraph

Published:  23 July, 2008

With Women's Equality Day on Friday, ANTHONY ROSE shares his thoughts on the impact women have made in the wine trade. While the UK has plenty of female wine writers, US magazines such as Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate are 'alpha-male-dominated'. Rose admits that women are often better tasters than men but refuses to accept the view of Batrice Ondet at Chteau Chauvin that their wines taste different: 'It's as much a leap of faith to ascribe feminine characteristics to wine made by women as to suggest that only men make strong, muscular wines. The strongest wines I know are the monster Zinfandels made by Helen Turley in California, while some of the most elegant and delicate Mosel Rieslings and Hunter Semillons are man-made.'

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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

For most people, Argentina conjures up images of gauchos, horses, sizzling steaks and sexy scenery, 'but the chances of anyone including wine in the list are slim', says JOANNA SIMON. 'That's because the average British view of Argentina's wine is as negative as the view of neighbouring Chile's wine is positive,' she says. Argentina's wines deserve a much better rating, according to Simon, and punters should focus first on 'Argentina's answer to fashionable Shiraz/Syrah': the full-bodied ripe wines being made from Malbec. She recommends 2003 Clos de Los Siete (9.9910.99; Majestic, Oddbins) and 2003 La Remonta Malbec (5.99; Booths).

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

ANDREW JEFFORD profiles Chteau Faugres, a producer that has gone from being a 'little minnow' to a 'legend of the future' (according to Robert Parker) in little more than a decade. In 1987, every drop of Faugres was 'sold in bulk to a single merchant', but then Michel Rolland got on board and a 'low-acid, ripe and softly extracted' wine was created. This year, Faugres was sold to Swiss perfume entrepreneur Silvio Denz, who has no plans to change the flavour profile: 'Parker likes heavier wines, more extracted wines, and those kind of wines are to my taste, too.'

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The Independent

Published:  23 July, 2008

ANTHONY ROSE is happy to dispel the old line about Australian wines 'all tasting the same'. At an Australian Wine Club tasting, he was hugely impressed with the line-up. Highlights included 2002 Basket Press Shiraz (23.99), which ages 'into a majestic Hermitage-like red'; 2004 Poverty Hill Riesling (9.99), which is 'in the keroseney mould'; and Peter Lehmann's 1998 Stonewell Shiraz (30), which displays 'immensely rich liquorice spice and bittersweet chocolate characters'.

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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

It's wines for sunsets, not salads or sandwiches, forJAMIE GOODE this week. Top 'sundowners' range from Plymouth Classic Fruit Cup (12.99; Sainsbury's) to Asda Ros d'Anjou (2.81),best decanted into a jug with ice cubes.

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The Independent On Sunday

Published:  23 July, 2008

RICHARD EHRLICH is another fan of La Basca Uvas Blancas (4.99), M&S's 'tangy' mix of Verdejo and Viura by Telmo Rodriguez. Other summer wines he likes include: 2004 Sterling Rocks Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (4.99; Asda) and 2004 Mas Las Cabes Muscat Sec (6.49; Majestic).

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The Observer

Published:  23 July, 2008

Though TIM ATKIN MW is 'more of a Burgundy than a claret man', he reckons that 'Margaux is consistently the most elegant of the first growths'. Atkin is not 'entirely convinced by the 2003 Margaux, which seems atypically tannic and overblown to me, especially at 2,300 a case, but the much cheaper 2004 vintage (950, available en primeur from Farr Vintners) is delicious. The 2004 Pavillon Rouge [Margaux' second wine] is also a steal at 210, but if I had the money I'd be tempted by the sublime 1990 (a mere 3,700 a case). Tasting this at the chteau, I very nearly fainted.'

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The Independent

Published:  23 July, 2008

Fancy a walk-on part in Desperate Housewives? All you need to do is cough up $7,500 to enter Auction Napa Valley, bid a few thousand more, and your 15 seconds of fame is assured. ANTHONY ROSE reckons that as wine auctions go, the event 'supplants the annual Hospices de Beaune in Burgundy both for munificence and ostentation': 'A litany of extraordinary lots included the opportunity to buy 60 special bottles and taste, eat and drink with its creators, Napa luminaries Robert and Peter Mondavi. Only in America.' Rose also recommends 2003 El Dueo Chardonnay (4.99; M&S); 2004 Santa Rita Floresta Sauvignon Blanc (9.99; Waitrose); and 2003 Petaluma Adelaide Hills Viognier(19.9924.50; Oddbins Fine Wine, Harvey Nichols).

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The Daily Mail

Published:  23 July, 2008

In the first of a six-part series examining grape varieties, MATTHEW JUKES chooses his favourite Sauvignon Blancs. His Wine of the Week is the 'very laid-back, mellifluous' 2004 Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Martinborough (10.49; D Byrne, Connolly's of Birmingham, Hoults of Huddersfield, Philglas & Swiggot). Other examples of this 'cheery, cheeky category of wine' to get the Jukes seal of approval include 2004 Quincy, Cuve Villalin, Domaine Jacques Rouz (8.40; Haynes, Hanson & Clark); and 2005 Dolphin Bay Sauvignon Blanc (3.99; Marks & Spencer).

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The Daily Telegraph

Published:  23 July, 2008

Among JONATHAN RAY's wine picks are: 'Wine of the Week' 2000 Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs (10.99; Bibendum); 2003 Chteau Plaisance, Ctes du Frontonnais (6.50; Les Caves de Pyrne, Bedales); and Taylor's Chip Dry White Port (9.99; Budgens, Waitrose).

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Has the 'Brett police' gone too far? ANDREW JEFFORD suggests it may have. He points to a controlled blind tasting of Syrahs from around the world, conducted by consultant Sam Harrop MW for his MW thesis, as evidence that Brettanomyces-infected wines need not necessarily be, as Tom Carson of Yering Station and many other Australian winemakers believe, 'undrinkable'. Only one of the 25 wines in the tasting was free of Brettanomyces, but Harrop's conclusion was that 'while excessive levels of volatile phenols can have a negative impact on wine quality, lower levels can enhance wine complexity and quality'. The benevolent effects of Brett, of one strain or another, can also be seen in the beer world, with makers of Belgian lambic and gueze beers, and traditional British stock ales, actively seeking out strains of the yeast. Jefford is concerned that the obsession with 'cleanliness' in today's winemaking, and the eradication of Brett and other 'faults' such as volatile acidity and dimethyl sulphur ('a principal aroma key for Carling' lager), will lead to 'acute boredom' for wine drinkers. As he says: 'The wine regarded as a hot contender for the greatest of the 20th century, 1947 Cheval Blanc, has levels of volatile acidity that would see it banned from sale were it produced today.'

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The Observer

Published:  23 July, 2008

TIM ATKIN MW loves an al fresco drink. 'Just as wines taste different in pressurised cockpits duller, as a rule so they seem to assume different aromas and flavours in the open air. There's something about drinking in the sunshine that makes even the dullest bottle taste good.' And Riesling come top of that list, as Atkin recommends 2004 Eitelsbacher Karthuserhofberg Riesling Sptlese (14; Charles Taylor Wines); 2000 Josmeyer Riesling 'Les Pierrets' (18; Pol Roger UK); and 2003 Cono Sur Visin Riesling (7.99; Sainsbury's).

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The Guardian

Published:  23 July, 2008

Drinking Greek wine, for VICTORIA MOORE, recalls 'the land of Homer and the Oracle of Delphi, rather than, say, Suntours and all-night ouzo-drinking competitions'. Moore reckons this is 'because many Greek wines are made with very distinctive native varieties (many of them totally unpronounceable), so when you drink them they don't kickstart associations with other wines and places. They also have a fierceness and intricacy that seems to suit the land they come from.' Greece's atavistic qualities can be found in 2003 Ambelones Vassiliou Dry White (6.49; Booths); 2004 Biblia Chora White (8.49; Booths); and 2002 Naoussa Boutari (6.49; Oddbins).

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